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Michael Sorkin (1948–2020)

27 March 2020

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Michael Sorkin (1948–2020) | The American architect and critic Michael Sorkin has died at the age of 71, from complications brought on by Covid-19. Born in Washington, D.C., in 1948, Sorkin was architecture critic at The Village Voice throughout the 1980s, contributing to numerous other publications including the New York TimesVanity Fair, and Wall Street Journal. He earned a reputation for polemical contributions to debates on democracy in urban planning, sustainability and environmentalism in architecture, and the legacies of modernism; several collections of his criticism have since been published internationally. The Michael Sorkin Studio was founded in the 1980s in New York, with its first commission the redevelopment of Atlanta city centre, which was completed in 1986. Recent projects include several large-scale urban redevelopments in China. In 2005, Sorkin founded the not-for-profit Terreform institute for urban research.

Kunstmuseum Basel reaches settlement with heirs of Curt Glaser | The Kunstmuseum Basel has reached an agreement with the heirs of Curt Glaser, a Berlin art dealer of Jewish heritage whose collection was auctioned off in Switzerland in 1933, when the museum acquired 200 of his drawings and prints.  Glaser had emigrated to Switzerland after being stripped of his position as director of the Berlin Art Library by the Nazis. Recognising that Glaser was a victim of Nazism, while also acknowledging that the auction was not forced and that Glaser would have retained the profits, the agreement between the Kunstmuseum and Glaser’s heirs stipulates that the museum will retain the artworks in its collection, but will put on an extensive exhibition about Curt Glaser and will provide financial compensation to the family.

IMMA concerned about storage of Irish state’s modern art collections | Last year, the Irish Museum of Modern Art wrote to state officials to advise that storage facilities for the national collections of modern art, worth an estimated €35m, fell ‘significantly below international museum standards’, putting artworks at risk of fire and flood damage. In a letter of March 2019, the museum warned the Office of Public Works that the ‘consequences of physical damage to any artworks, that would be considered avoidable, would be one of serious reputational damage both to Imma and the department.’

UK independent museums warn of insolvency threat | A number of independent museums in the UK have expressed concerns that they may not be able to reopen after the coronavirus pandemic has passed. The Creswell Heritage Trust and the National Videogame Museum, as well as other institutions, have launched appeals to avoid insolvency.

Recommended reading | In the Paris Review, Edwidge Danticat’s essay on pentimenti in the work of Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum is paired with a portfolio of new and recent drawings by the artist. The Guardian carries a tribute to Kenny Rogers, who died last week; the country singer was also, as Thomas Hobbs writes, a talented photographer. In the New York Times, Jason Farago wonders what the art world will look like after coronavirus.